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Top Ten Changes That Make Drupal 7 the Best Version

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The web content-management system Drupal marches on with version 7 set to release in 2010. Tom Geller, author of Drupal 7: Visual QuickStart Guide, leads you through the top ten fundamental enhancements and several significant new features, both visible (e.g., administration tools) and hidden (programmer APIs).

The web content-management system Drupal marches on, with version 7 now in very late development and likely to be released in early- to mid-2010. Under the twin leadership of project founder Dries Buytaert and longtime contributor Angie "webchick" Byron, its ambitious plans have mustered the efforts of hundreds of contributors and resulted in dozens of significant changes. At the risk of offending community members whose valuable work isn't on this list—and keeping in mind that I'm writing this several months before Drupal 7's official release—here's what I think are the top ten improvements in Drupal 7.

#1: New Themes

Visitors to your site usually won't be able to tell whether you're running Drupal 7 or a previous version: Both use the Garland theme as its default graphic design, and either can wear the clothes of any theme you download or create yourself. But if you have experience running Drupal sites, you'll notice a difference as soon as you log in as the administrator (see Figure 1): Drupal 7 now has a separate administration theme, appropriately called "Seven", built specifically for clarity and convenience. (Of course, you can also display Seven as your main theme to visitors as well.)

Drupal 7 includes another new theme, called "Stark," intended as a foundation on which you can build your own themes. And in the interest of removing obscure and unused portions from the software, four less-popular themes are no longer in Drupal's "core" (although you can still get them from the drupal.org website).

Figure 1 A typical administration screen in Drupal 6 (with the Garland theme) and Drupal 7 (with the Seven theme).

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